Daily living conditions in Iraq dismal, UN survey finds

12 May 2005 – Daily living conditions in Iraq are dismal, with families suffering from intermittent water and electricity supply, chronic malnutrition among children and more illiterate young than ever before, a new report by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Iraqi Government shows.

“While many aspects of living conditions in Iraq in 2004 are dismal, most reflect the courage, endurance and determination of the Iraqi people to overcome the hurdles they are facing,” Staffan de Mistura, the UN Deputy Special Representative for Humanitarian, Reconstruction and Development Affairs, said at the ceremony to launch the three-volume survey.

Despite the conflict, the society was functioning, though under considerable stress, he quoted survey results as showing.

Iraqi questioners, trained by a Norwegian research non-governmental organization (NGO), asked 22,000 households in 18 governorates about their housing, infrastructure, population, health, education, work, income and the status of women, and the analysis followed international standards for statistical reporting.

Although a large percentage of the population in Iraq is connected to water, electricity and sewage networks, the supply has been too unstable to make a difference to people’s lives, the survey results show.

Almost a quarter of the children between 6 months and 5 years suffer from chronic malnutrition. In a country where 39 per cent of the people are younger than 15, the young today are more illiterate than preceding generations. Young men with a high school education or better are suffering from 37 per cent unemployment.

The survey “not only allows for a good understanding of socio-economic conditions in Iraq, but will also be a building block for further analysis that will certainly benefit the development and reconstruction processes in Iraq,” Mr. de Mistura said.

“It will be especially helpful in addressing the grave disparities – urban and rural as well as those between the governorates – revealed by the survey, in a more prioritized and targeted fashion.”

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